From Sicily to Sardinia

July 10 to 13, 2021

In April we got the chance for a Covid-19 vaccination here in Sicily. It was quite a surprise during breakfast on a Sunday morning. There was chatter in the marina that the major hospital in Ragusa was having an ‘Open Vaccination’ day. Meaning anyone could come and get vaccinated. The vaccination type concerned us. Which manufacturer would we get? Regardless, we went to the hospital straightaway and despite our language barrier cleared all the hurdles. The regional authorities of Sicily and Italy pushed hard for a high vaccination rate and were so kind to vaccinate also non residents like us (for free!).

We waited three months in Marina di Ragusa for our second shot, scheduled for early July. The city of Ragusa had established a vaccination center in an unused Basketball Court. Luckily this time, we could choose and got the Pfizer vaccination

In the good days, before Covid-19, this was a basketball court
Waiting in 35° heat inside the Basketball Court for our vaccination. No Air condition.

The last days before departure and still some repairs left.

Damaged 14mm Shroud near mast top. Was accidentally sheared twice during production. Requires replacement. We were lucky it held up so long. Was a long process to get it replaced.

Misaligned mainsail mast track high up in the mast. Not a straightforward repair as the drill holes were not centered. This defect destroyed many batten cars 🙁

Standard Reefing set-up chafes and damages the luff of the mainsail. Installed very different setup for all three reefs. Works much better now.

Our rudder wheels are hard to turn. One of the rudder cable guide wheels is not moving freely. We have a clue now which one it is. (Not this one). These wheels are hard to access behind walls in cramped locations. Will work on this in Carloforte

Weight and Balance.
Our Nautitech has large usable storage spaces forward in the bows. It became natural to store things there until we found the boat had become nose heavy. Not good for sailing performance. We had to move a lot of weight aft. Our second anchor, chains, heavy ropes, tools and more. Distributing the lot in the bilges was not as straight forward as it sounds. Every bilge segment has sensitive stuff installed. Thruhulls, depth-sounder sensors etc.

Extricating all the heavy stuff and moving it to their new locations on the boat was exhausting in the hot and humid weather. In the end we got it all done plus ticked off all the to-do items on our seaworthiness task list.

Saturday July 10
we checked out of the marina and said good bye to the marina staff.

At 12:25 we cast off the lines for our destination Carloforte. We have 3 nights at sea ahead of us. For whatever reasons nights on sea always count more than the days. Probably a little bit because of the sleep deprivation, but nights sometimes generate uncomfortable feelings. Especially dark nights with no moon and clouds. Those nights can be eery.

Our planned route from Sicily to Sardinia

The Weather looks good. 

Heading west from Sicily in summertime is a compromise between sailing and motoring. Like all sailors we don’t like sailing long stretches upwind. We chose an upwind leg close along the southern shores of Sicily followed 36 hours later with the crossing from Sicily to Sardinia. The forecast had a light southerly wind position for a nice beam reach to Sardinia (Stop dreaming captain!!). In reality we had the upwind sail which was actually quite nice followed by variable and calm winds.

Back to the start. It is hot on the water. We keep the AC running until late night. Makes the cabin feel like a luxury hotel foyer. You come inside from the heat and a wonderful cool chill surrounds you.

With the weight balance of the boat shifted towards its center, the upwind performance improved a lot. At a true wind angle of 50-55° (TWA) and wind speeds around 20kts the boat sailed 8 knots. Waves were 1 meter or less. We experienced way less slamming because of the lighter bows. We were happy with the ride and the performance of the boat. We could sail angles up top 45º true at lower speeds naturally. The VMG remained nearly the same. Sailing more directly into waves was less comfortable, hence, we staid with the 50 to 55º angles.

Clearly the boat does not like a nose heavy trim. (No boat likes that)

A 45ft monohull following us could not keep up with us upwind. Admittedly their sails were not trimmed very well. It seems we did well balancing our boat.


Banco Terribile

The first large bank we passed around is called Banco ‘Terribile’. I don’t know how the bank got its name, but probably for a reason. Several shallower large sandbars are on the way there. What looks like so much space on the charts becomes much more crowded out there. At certain wind and current setups one wants to stay clear from the ‘Bancos’. These bars are typically 10m deep but show unruly wave patterns and a lot of fishing vessels on the fringes around. About ‘Banco Terribile’ it is also said that white sharks reproduce in these waters.

First sunset as we approach Banco Terribile
Radar switched on as many fishing vessels don’t use AIS here

Banco Silvia

The second night we had a very clear sky. Stars without end and easy to see the milky way – fascinating.

Often, late in the night, the fishermen entertain themselves with an unmistakable porn radio show on the VHF Channel 16. This kind of happening appears to be a common thing in these latitudes. Today ‘Ole, Ole’ songs replaced it. Italy must have won the EM soccer championship.

This night is also very warm and pleasant. During the watch, long after midnight, a T-Shirt is enough to keep comfortable.

Chemicals Tanker following day
Fishing Vessel East of Banco Silvia
This looked like an unused production platform South of Sardinia

Approaching Sardinia

Underwater geographical formation of southern Sardinia

The Third and last night we arrive at the island shelf of Sardinia.

We tried to time our arrival to Carloforte for around 5am. So we would have some reserve time for delays underway. The weather forecast had predicted strong winds from 10am onwards. We wanted to be in port and docked before that.

We arrived at the island shelf right after nightfall. Ship traffic became heavy and the watch more demanding. Even so visibility in general was good, this night had no moon and full cloud cover. Other vessels could only be detected by their navigation lights. Especially with smaller boats there were few clues for early detection.

South of Sardinia the ship traffic became heavy. Radar helped at night. Many vessels we visually detected before the Radar picked them up.

The last mile into the port of Carloforte I deemed risky for night entry. The ferries run in after nightfall. But they drive this route many times every day.

There is one way, in between many rocks, marked with a magenta line on the chart. There is limited space to port and starboard. While most of the underwater obstructions are supposedly deeper than our draft, who am I to try and find out if the charts are really accurate. Two black yellow cardinal markers are shown below in the picture. They only exist on the chart. Not on the water.

July 13 0730h Docked in Carloforte.
330nm in 2 days and 19 hours, lots of engine hours and no white sharks.

LUNARA in Carloforte

Arrival Prosecco

Ah yes, (waiting) the obligatory docking Prosecco.

Waiting for our Docking Prosecco

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